A giant panda sits between a developing fetus and a spying Robocop. This is just a small segment of the colorful two-dimensional world that exists along the beloved graffiti wall on Moganshan Lu. The 600-meter-long wall is one of the few graffiti walls implicitly sanctioned by the government in in Shanghai. According to graffiti artist Brand Fury One, “Anyone can go on by and paint on this wall with no permission required. It’s an area where you can go and showcase some of your work to the general public. However graffiti etiquette implies that you don’t just go and paint something over anyone else’s work, unless you’re doing a bigger piece.” Over the years, artists from around the world have graced this wall with their spray-paint presence. Fellow artist The Orangeblowfish says, “A lot of artists I know go out there and paint on a weekly basis. You can expect to see something new on the wall each week.” Art aficionados, local passersby and wandering tourists alike relish this ever-changing outdoor canvas, looking to it as a source of creative inspiration and snapping photos of the most striking artwork.
Sadly, the life of this popular attraction is set to be cut short as the wall has been scheduled for demolition since 2011 to make room for new industrial buildings. It’s now 2013, and the wall is still standing. The Orangeblowfish says, “It’s probably still going to be up for a while. They’re going to leave it until the last minute, after the whole construction finishes.” But construction is currently in progress, and each day of commercial development means another day closer to the wrecking ball for M50’s graffiti wall. “I look at it as a disservice to the city, the people and the tourists of the area. Unless you do the research, a lot of people don’t know where the art district is. The wall almost serves as a huge billboard leading into the M50 area. If you take away the wall, you kind of sterilize a portion of the city,” laments Brand Fury One.
Nevertheless, the impermanence of graffiti art is inherent, and the destruction of a wall will not discourage graffiti artists from continuing their craft. Artists and local supporters have requested that the city sanction more areas for legal graffiti, and there are other popular venues for street art such as the Shanghai Graffiti Park at Lingshi Lu and walls surrounding several universities such as Jiaotong, Fudan, Tongji and the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology. Still, the original work on display at M50’s iconic wall is irreplaceable. Be sure to check it out and enjoy the regular updates while you can.
Where: 50 Moganshan Lu (near Changhua Lu) 莫干山路50号 (近昌化路)
Words and reporting by Jessica Levine and Susan Sun. Photos by Ransom Wingo.
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